The fact that I've also signed up for the Crater Lake Century in August made me wonder, "What if I get all the way up to Crater Lake in Oregon only to discover I simply can't ride a century anymore? I better make sure I can still do this nonsense on my own turf." Then—using my special brand of bent logic—I also thought, "It's nearly impossible to forget things you need for your bike ride if you start from home, so let's do that." True, a packing list would also take care of that concern, but I was on a roll. (I also like the environmentally-friendly idea of NOT taking a car to the start of a bike ride.) So yeah, why not ride to the starting line in Encinitas. What's another 30 miles?
So at 4 am yesterday morning I got up to have breakfast and ride to the start. I could have gotten three more hours of sleep before helping other SDBC ride leaders corral the hundreds of cyclists who show up for the regular SDBC Saturday ride. That would have involved pedaling 83 fewer miles than I rode yesterday in the SDC. I could have just not shown up, but I'm even less fond of DNS (did not start) than I am of DNF (did not finish). Fortunately, I didn't sleep in.
This weekend I learned another hill climb moniker: The Purple Monster. This 1.7-mile segment of the 8-mile climb [from Interstate 15 to California Highway 67] up Scripps Poway Parkway is a beast, for sure. but a relatively tame one compared to other local climbs...like the one up South Grade Road on Palomar Mountain (unrelenting 8%) or the menacing 1.3-mile combination of Hidden Valley Road and Via Capri (peaking at 18%) going up Mt. Soledad, right around the corner from our home. I've ridden the Purple Beast a few times without knowing it. I've also ridden it considerably faster than I rode it yesterday, despite yesterday's climb being a chip-timed, uphill "time trial" (TT) this time around. Why? Because I was younger once upon a time. Going uphill, I'm about HALF as fast as I once was. All my "PRs" (personal records) on the Purple Monster and other climbs were set long before the days of GPS and bike computers...and before I added another 20 pounds to my "frame." Now I'm a slower, older man and it seems every motion is being monitored, measured and timed in some way. I couldn't pretend to care about that yesterday. I made an effort to stay especially slow during yesterday's so-called time trial to help make sure I would finish the century and the extra 30 bonus miles. I know very well that if I ride over 50 miles in a day and I really push the pace, my back can give me problems and my leg muscles can cramp.
Contrary to yesterday's "slow and steady" century theme, I made an effort to keep the average speed of my previous century above 15 miles per hour. (In my youthful heydays, 20 mph was reasonable.) Nowadays, even 15 isn't so easy for this nonathletic 60+ rider anymore, especially when a lot of traffic lights, hills and rest stops get in the mix. That's fine. Yesterday's snail pace was a smashing success for me, with an average speed under 14 mph and me ending up in the slower half of all "racers" in the Purple Monster TT. The biggest challenge was knowing I was being timed while resisting the urge to go faster. Then again, knowing I'd be "pack fodder" either way made it somewhat easier to just chill. "Lose the battle and win the war," right? Overall, yesterday was a success because I kept the rubber side down, made it through the day without cramps or backaches, and I woke up this morning feeling fine. Yeah, my legs still got a little sore after 132 miles and my butt hurt from being in the saddle for over 9 hours, but hey, I did it. Unfortunately I felt too tired to join Chris Horner for a pizza and beer event at Holland Cycles.
It's amazing and wonderful to be alive with self-consciousness and the physical ability to do stuff like this. I know this doesn't go on forever, which makes me appreciate it all even more. After a shower and dinner I enjoyed some mindless late-night talk shows on the DVR with a few beers and and a little [uplifting!] Candy Jack, so I finished my day feeling absolutely no pain and I slept like a baby.